Date: 07-12-2011 03:01
Author: Zahir Merchant

PDC profile: Zahir

If you had unbelievable powers, would you try to save the world, or just watch it burn? This is the question Sucker Punch's inFAMOUS 2 poses to the player. But does the sequel to the 2009 PS3 hit manage to electrify gamers once more?

The Beast is Coming
inFAMOUS 2 picks up where the original game left off, starting Cole and Zeke in Empire City. The citywide quarantine has finally been lifted, when The Beast, which was briefly alluded to in the first inFAMOUS, beats Cole into submission, and destroys the entire city. Completely drained from his fight, Cole flees to New Marais. Upon arriving, Cole immediately begins his training to defeat The Beast, which is drawing closer with every second that passes. In his way stand several foes, such as the Militia, Ice Soldiers, a Blast Shard bomber, and swamp monsters.

A Clean Slate

Right out of the gate, inFAMOUS 2 is a great improvement of its predecessor. The game is noticeably a lot more colourful, much of this credit coming from the new locale of New Marais, which is modeled after the real city of New Orleans. Quite a bit of variation exists throughout the city, as Cole travels his way through swamps, red light districts, and even cemeteries. There is also an impressive level of environmental destruction, with warehouses having giant holes blown through them, gas towers exploding, and large patios collapsing. Another smart move by Sucker Punch was to retain the basic powers gained from the original inFAMOUS, such as the offensive the Alpha Grenades and Alpha Blast, and the navigational Static Thrusters, which allow Cole to glide in the air. New vertical grind rail launchers, an Electronic Tether, and Ice Launch powers help make navigation even faster and more fun this time around.

Combat has also been vastly improved with new offensive powers, and a new weapon dubbed "The Amp." With this new weapon, Cole can string together melee combos on baddies and perform devastating finishing moves. Speaking of beating up bad guys, there is definitely a wider variety of them this time around. From redneck Militia to the colossal Ice Titans, I was constantly on edge, sapping electricity from nearby generators to bring myself from the brink of death and blow the enemy up into oblivion. With the wide variety of powers to use, one would think that it would be difficult to use them all. However, it is a snap to change Cole's powers on the fly. By holding left on the d-pad, I could assign new powers to my buttons in seconds, allowing me to get right back into the game. Purchasing powers is similarly easy. After completing stunts to unlock powers, defeating enemies, and completing quests to gain XP, I could press right on the d-pad to open up the upgrade store and make Cole even more unstoppable.

The Ice Queen or The Fiery Temptress?

The karma system is back in full effect during inFAMOUS 2, but this time with a twist. As it happens, Cole isn't the only superhuman conduit fighting in New Marais. As the story progresses, two superpowered women join your team, Nix and Kuo. Nix controls oily black tentacles, can teleport, and control fire, while Kuo can fly and harness ice. Cole will team up with both during certain missions, allowing for interesting power combinations. For example, Nix can ensnare enemies in her tentacles, allowing Cole to shoot them with his electricity to engulf them in flames, instantly killing them. On the other hand, Kuo can cast a cloud of mist over a group of enemies, and when Cole fires into it, the bad guys rapidly freeze to death. Throughout the story, there will be missions the player choose to do that will side them closer to Nix or Kuo, and in effect, bring them closer to Hero or Infamous karma status. Though Nix is aligned with Evil Karma, and Kuo with Good Karma, both make decisions occasionally that can be in a bit of a gray area, making the karma system more interesting than just being evil or good, it becomes a matter of what I, the player, personally feels is right or wrong. I still wish it was more complex, but it is still a huge improvement from the first game. Depending which character Cole decides to align himself with, he will be able to gain some of their powers during a key story point, granting Cole either fire or ice powers in addition to his own electric powers. The last improvement to the karma system I would like to mention is that the player's karma standing actually radically changes some of the cutscenes, and more importantly, the ending. In fact, the endings are so dramatically different, it calls into question how Sucker Punch will handle a third inFAMOUS, if they choose to make one.

Play, Create, Share
No, I'm not talking about LittleBigPlanet, I'm talking about possibly one of the most ambitious additions to inFAMOUS 2, the UGC (User Generated Content) Missions. The "Play, Create, Share" mantra spawned by LBP and carried on by games like ModNation Racers lives on through the UGC in inFAMOUS 2. The mission creator can be accessed in any location outside of a mission, using the pause menu. There are templates for various mission types, such as Parkour, Kill 'Em All, Escort, and much more. If none of the templates meet the creators needs, it is always possible to create a new mission completely new from scratch. The possibilities are surprisingly varied. Regular users and Sucker Punch themselves have made levels featuring a giant 8-bit Sly Cooper, ghosts in a cemetery, a zombie invasion, a killer disco ball, and missions that flip the "God Mode" switch on Cole, giving him unlimited power and stamina against hordes of enemies. The learning curve to the UGC is admittedly tough, but fortunately Sucker Punch has created an official Youtube channel that has a series of short videos that provide plenty of tips so ambitious mission designers can hit the ground running. After a mission has been uploaded to the PSN, it will be available for everyone to play, right from the regular map, populating alongside regular story and side missions. If the player prefers to avoid certain UGC missions, or just avoid them altogether, it is possible to filter or turn them off completely, which is nice. Overall, the UGC is a great reason to play the game even more after completing the story missions.

Blackout
In the end, inFAMOUS 2 improves many of the flaws of the original, and then provides a boatload of content on top of those improvements. In my personal opinion, this is the best superhero game currently on the market for the PS3. It really nails the feel of being overloaded with power, which is something I haven't been satisfied with since the Spider-Man 2 movie game on PS2. With so much to do, the gameplay never feels stale, and leaves me hungry for more. I can't wait to see what Sucker Punch brings to the table for their next game. If inFAMOUS 2 is any indication, we will be in for a real treat.

inFAMOUS 2 is developed by Sucker Punch available now for PS3 on Blu-ray and PSN now for $59.99. I played the game for 20 hours before writing this review, playing through all of the Good campaign and partly through the Evil campaign.


9/10
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